Shropshire Star

Nearly 200 take on canal triathlon

Nearly 200 people took part in one of the most picturesque challenges Mid Wales has to offer.

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Competitors taking part in the Montgomery Canal Triathlon.

The annual Montgomery Canal Triathlon took place over the weekend, with a host of competitors lining up to run, cycle and canoe the 28-mile route.

Organised by the Friends of the Montgomery Canal, the event was supported by the Canal & River Trust, which owns the waterway.

The annual triathlon supports the restoration of the canal, and this year saw participants complete a 12-mile cycle ride from Newtown to Belan, five-and-a-half miles by canoe through the centre of Welshpool, and a final 11 miles on foot to Morton, south of Oswestry.

About 190 people joined the event, including one over 80 who was accompanied by his son and grandson from the south of France.

For the start 170 cyclists gathered at Hafan yr Afon, Open Newtown’s new centre by the River Severn to be started by the town’s Mayor Councillor John Byrne, assisted by the Montgomery Town Crier Sue Blower.

It was only just over three and a quarter hours later that the first entrant ran across the finish line at Morton – others were arriving up to five hours later.

Competitors taking part in the Montgomery Canal Triathlon.

Christine Palin, chairman of the Friends of the Montgomery Canal said: “The triathlon is very popular with families and the more seriously competitive and we are always delighted that so many come from far and wide to take part, often bringing friends to join in for the first time. It is a big effort by the Friends of the Montgomery Canal, both the organising team and over a hundred volunteers who help on the day with transport and managing locks and road crossings.

“The route along the canal showed participants sections of the canal that have been restored and are open for use and others where the canal still has to be restored. There are a number of road crossings, blocked in the years of dereliction, which are quite difficult to manage: it will be really great when the bridges are rebuilt and boaters, ramblers and anglers can cross under the road in safety.

“There was a new bridge at the finish, a lift bridge for a farm crossing, which was across the canal to allow our entrants to check in at the finish. Proceedings were interrupted when a narrowboat came round the corner after visiting the new basin at Crickheath and had to open the bridge to go through. As we record how long entrants take at each stage, our timekeepers had to record the time of arrival at the bridge rather than the time of crossing it.

“Our visitors saw too what a lovely area the canal passes through – some actually told us how pleased they were to discover this.

"Obviously the whole purpose of restoring the canal is to create somewhere that local residents and visitors can enjoy whether on the water or using the towpath. For years we have been working to a restoration plan that takes account of the canal’s special place in our community with valuable flora and fauna, one of the best collections of canal-age locks, bridges and aqueducts and opportunities for relaxation and well-being on the towpath or visiting our special canal-side nature reserves.

“This year we had to change the date for the triathlon. We had planned to run the event on May 6 but had to change when the coronation was announced. But it rained on May 6 and we had a gorgeous sunny day for the event.

“Over the years the Friends of the Montgomery Canal have given over £30,000 for the restoration and we hope we will be able to make another contribution from this year's event – only made possible by the contributions of our army of volunteers of course.”

The organisers said they were grateful for help from businesses and organisations which provided supported the event, including Red Ridge Outdoor Centre, Arthog Outreach Outdoor Education Centre, NiBs, McDonald Automotive, Montgomery Water, Welshpool’s Morrisons and Tesco, CRT’s Welshpool Volunteer Towpath Taskforce (aka TRAMPS) and Welshpool Canoe Club.

There was was also assistance for the event from Amberon – Mid West Wales, Bacchante Crafts, Wristbands Plus, K&S Toilets, Cookson Travel of Welshpool, and St. John Ambulance of Newtown.

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